Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2
Hong Kong action auteur Johnnie To indulges his silly side with this hilariously inventive sequel to his hit romantic comedy, about two former lovers who find themselves irresistibly drawn back together — despite the fact that each of them is engaged to someone else.
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★★★★ review by Filipe Furtado on Letterboxd
The first film love is a business transaction metaphor pushed up to an extreme: when all romantic options are ultimately so exchangeable, they are also meaningless until a heartbreaking final shot recalibrates the costs of all the weightless romantic gestures we've seen until then. This has flaws most of them dramatic (Wai hall of mirrors structure is at his self-conscious worst, Wu's absence does make things unbalanced and so on), but its mix of charm and dark vision is remarkable. This might be To’s most nihilistic film since the early Milkyway thrillers while also keeping the screwball endearing quality of the original, a mix of horror and zaniness worthy of Bringing Up Baby. Love is a matter of engineering, a series of spatial relationships that are programmed to cancel themselves out, every new image ready to erase the previous one. If the images are narrow and flatter than any other recent To film is because while Don’t Go Breaking My Heart careful presentation of Wu and Koo worthiness as romantic suitors suggested a light-hearted Daisy Kanyon, then Part 2 is Johnnie To’s late Preminger film; everything can only exist in the surface, every connection, every gesture, every decision, every piece of romantic longing set to be empty out of meaning. It is a flamboyant utter charming vision of romantic hell. No surprise it ends by showing a former alcoholic hitting the bottle.
★★★★½ review by charulata on Letterboxd
If the 2011 film is the greatest romantic film made in recent times (which it is), then this to me is the To-Wai team's great anti-romance. Which is not to say that there aren't great romantic moments here... there are of course and they set the heart aflutter and everything. But most of the time the film is skewering those moments soon after. Those post-it note correspondences that endeared Louis Koo so much to us as well as Gao in the first movie have devolved into a pickup artist's lame formula. The grandiose skyscraper is now a prolonged construction project keeping the couple apart. And signs and coincidences are often deflated of meaning.. Louis Koo feeling breathless again ultimately means nothing. Connections formed over magical drunken nights don't necessarily endure the harsh glare of daylight. The past (both near and distant) haunts these characters continually and they all commit the inevitable human folly of letting that taint the present. Why is it that we sing sadly about lost loves when we are drunk as opposed to singing joyfully about what's on hand.. Devastating closing shot .. and yet one leaves the film with a smile on one's face.
Also, hilarious. Watched it with the greatest audience. Sychronized laughter and awws and everything. Felt like a warm group hug.
★★★★½ review by Sean Gilman on Letterboxd
The sequel builds on the first film in several ingenious ways, doubling and inverting just about everything from its predecessor. More romantic than comic, if the first film had a flaw, it was that it was so sweetly, almost innocently joyous in its cuteness. Koo and Wu chase after Gao with increasingly implausible displays of charm and conspicuous consumption, the luxury world the characters inhabit blissfully untouched by the economic catastrophe of 2008 that launches the film's plot (as such, it is a companion piece to To's other film from 2011, Life Without Principle which looks explicitly at the fallout from the collapse from the perspective of a cop, a gangster and a low-level banker). The sequel raises the price tag while further disassociating its characters from reality (only once does Gao take public transportation this time around, and only to prove a point, rejecting both Yeung's Ferrari and Koo's Maserati). Central to the inversion is a trope Yeung's character introduces, that of "reverse thinking". She hires Gao because she's wrong about a prediction, as being consistently wrong is just as valuable as being consistently right, ably demonstrated by an octopus Yueng and Chou steal from a seafood restaurant (doubling the legs of the totemic animal from the first film, Wu's frog). This is a film about people who constantly make bad decisions, who always do the opposite of what they should. The sweetness of the first film gradually gives way to a deep, uncertain melancholy. In one of the film's first crushing reveals we see that Koo still watches the video he took of Gao dancing in the first film, projecting it on a wall every night accompanied by the sickly sweet love ballad she's silently singing, it's the only way he can get to sleep. The past haunts him and destroys him, Koo is aging gracefully as an actor, and his weariness and dawning realization that his playboy life is nothing but pathetic (on the heels of a perfect storm of flight attendants) goes a long way toward humanizing a nearly impossible character. Koo's the most dramatic case, but the film reveals layers of darkness, self-hatred and lunacy within each of its principals. When the ending comes, it isn't the grand triumph of the first film, with Koo and Wu exchanging smiles and a friendly "thumbs-up", it's a world-shattering smash, the most powerful final shot since Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone in Love.
★★★★½ review by Willow Maclay on Letterboxd
I can't recall any other sequel that completely dismantles the mythos of the previous film quite so strongly since Gremlins 2. DGBMH2 is a vicious picture. There's still romance, but unlike the previous film the idea of competition completely overwhelms the characters as others feelings get trampled on, and left to wilt and suffer behind a bottle of alcohol. The same tools that To presented in the first picture are here, like the camera phone recording of songs, and windowsill text messaging via post it notes, but it is muted to a point that it all rings hollow as To embraces the game instead of the feelings behind love. The romantic comedy genre balances a tricky line between protecting the man or woman left out in the love triangle, but here it is completely forgone in favour of a truthfulness towards rejection, and man it stings.
This is Johnnie To's bleakest movie since Election 2. Froggy died for nothing. Don't Go Breaking My Heart existed to only set up the hurt presented here. Goddamn :(
★★★★★ review by Sean Gilman on Letterboxd
Don't Go Breaking My Heart = Act One of Into the Woods
Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2 = Act Two of Into the Woods
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